CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It wasn't the best way for Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington to end his weekend of watching the West Virginia Power, as the Pirates' low Class A affiliate dropped a 12-5 decision Sunday to the Lexington Legends to fall back below .500 for the season.
Yet through the four games he watched the Power (21-22) play the Legends, he saw positive signs among the growing pains with players that could shape future rosters in Pittsburgh.
"You see the tools that our scouting department drafted and signed, and you see how hard (Power Manager) Mike Ryan and (hitting coach Orlando Merced) and (pitching coach Jeff Johnson) and the rest of the staff work to help these guys grow and develop," Huntington said. "It's fun, especially at this level and the levels below this. Sometimes the athleticism outweighs the instincts for the game and the body says they can do things the mind hasn't quite caught up to say we shouldn't yet."
The Power's series finale showed how the road won't always be smooth.
The Legends (23-21) tagged West Virginia starter Jake Burnette for six earned runs. Burnette, making his first home start for the Power, couldn't get out of the first inning.
He gave up RBI to Ethan Chapman, Fred Ford and Jin-Ho Shin then loaded the bases for reliever Thomas Harlan, who entered with two outs. Nick Cuckovich doubled off Harlan to score three. Lexington had another big inning in the sixth, scoring four runs.
Yet Ryan said the way the Power played hard throughout instead of folding before the game was over gave him one of his proudest moments of the season.
"You take the scoreboard out of the equation, the way they played hard for nine innings, the way they did things the right way, they didn't fold," Ryan said. "I'm proud to be the manager of this team. Take two innings out, and I think it's a great, well-played game.
"We had base runners in the ninth when other teams in this league would have folded and tried to get out of here because they could enjoy their Sunday evening the quicker they get out," he added.